By Justin Ruane, Vice President of Sales
World-class teams, compelling global issues to solve and sustainability related solutions. These are all the core ingredients for the perfect career opportunity, at least in my book.
Up until October 2021, I had spent the last 7-years at Concur (now SAP Concur) directly leading new business sales teams and go to market (GTM) initiatives within a 6,000+ employee business unit of a 100,000+ employee global organization. From the first day walking through the elevator doors at Concur’s Bellevue, WA headquarters in 2014, until my final day logging off virtually from home, I can honestly say that all of those crucial career fulfillment “must-have” boxes had been checked year-over-year. It was such an incredible experience to have worked with a truly best-in-class team, sold & deployed an industry leading solution and positively impacted thousands of organizations (and millions of end-users around the world).
There were many amazing things about my time at Concur, but there was one particular aspiration that had become increasingly more prevalent when I’d ask myself “what’s next?” (and had been massively accelerated since the onset of COVID).
That aspiration being: how could I take skills I’ve acquired over the past 10+ years & deep knowledge of the corporate travel industry and apply them (at scale) to further improve the lives of millions of people, directly impact the Future of Work and help countless organizations make it through, and beyond, this cataclysmic event we’ve found ourselves in for the past 18+ months (and FAST!).
When Steve Singh (co founder and former-CEO of Concur) reached out to me for a call to catch up, I immediately knew, this was a call I had to take.
We chatted for a bit about what we had been doing over the years, the impact COVID has had on global business travel and the difficulties of leading teams remotely through these inexplicably difficult times.
I had shared with him that one of the main factors that had kept me at Concur all these years was the culture he and the other co-founders (and subsequent leaders of the business) had built around its people and the importance of bringing your people & teams together. Not being able to be with my team, to be around their energy, celebrate the wins, learn in the moment from our failures, and just being together, this was the most draining impact COVID had on me as a leader.
With a now almost entirely remote team, tighter travel budgets, increased focus on reducing carbon emissions (rightfully so!), ever changing travel & vaccine requirements, and a multitude of other factors, it had become nearly impossible to justify getting my team together for a meeting or team building event with my “well we just need to get together as a team, it’s been too long!” business case.
As I was telling Steve all of this, I knew I wasn’t sharing anything new to him he hadn’t heard from other business leaders over the past year. What I did know at the time was this: there had to be a better way to overcome the problems I was personally facing on a daily basis.
Lo and behold, this was the real reason for Steve’s call that day.
He went on to tell me about this early-stage, global travel startup based in Spain that was on a mission to help organizations answer the question of “where do we meet?”, and now (due to shifts in the travel industry from COVID) answering, “where CAN we meet?”.
We went on to talk through the vision he and TROOP’s co-founders, Dennis Vilovic and Leonard Cremer, shared about an open ecosystem of business travel “micro services” coming together to form a seamless, end-to-end, AI and data driven meeting planning and booking platform. TROOP’s goal was simple: to empower anyone to be a meeting planner. Their vision and the organizations’ goal aligned perfectly with what I was seeking out to help solve: bringing people (back) together. Steve mentioned TROOP was looking for a VP of Sales to help come in and join the leadership team to aid in the next phase of the company’s growth. I knew right then that this was an opportunity I had to be a part of.
After meeting with Dennis, Leonard and other members of the TROOP team, sharing great conversations and visions of the future of travel, future of work, open travel, travel micro services and the opportunity to lead from the front in reshaping a massive (and mostly prehistoric) market opportunity in the corporate/business travel space, I felt there was immediate team chemistry and a unified vision on where to take this all next.
Looking back now on my first 2-weeks at TROOP, I can confidently say that I joined a world-class team (and growing, we are hiring!) that is solving an ever-evolving issue and building an incredibly powerful & differentiated solution to solve the needs of hundreds of millions of business travelers worldwide.
I couldn’t be more excited and optimistic about the direction TROOP is heading in with what is on the roadmap, and I am honored to work alongside Dennis, Leonard, Steve, the entire TROOP team and our growing list of partners & integrated travel ecosystem suppliers.